SANDPOINT — Parents and kids who love science, animals, plants, and the outdoors should set aside the May 20 and 21 to take part in BioBlitz weekend.
Kaniksu Land Trust and the University of Idaho are teaming up to take stock of the biodiversity within the 75 acres of green space at the UI property on Boyer Avenue, but they cannot do it without some volunteer help, said Suzanne Tugman, director of community outreach for KLT.
The 24-hour BioBlitz gets started at 2 p.m. Friday and wraps up 2 p.m. Saturday. Within the span of hours, visiting scientists will oversee volunteers as they count the flora and fauna, according to event organizers.
Scientists and naturalists from across the region will facilitate the cataloging of species in the following categories: birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, and flowering plants as well as lichens and moss, and fungi.
Amateur naturalists and educators will also assist with education programs," said Tugman.
BioBlitz events take place across the country, but this will be a first for the Sandpoint area. A family-friendly festival will take place concurrently with the species count on the UI campus, Friday, May 20, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, May 21, from 8 p.m. until 2 p.m. Activities will include educational walks, fireside storytelling Friday evening and a keynote talk by Graham McLaren at noon Saturday, she said.
"The data collected by volunteers during this 24-hour race against time will reveal a composite snapshot of the diversity of habitats and species on this special property. This information will assist partnering organizations to protect species and habitats throughout our region," said Tugman.
Another benefit of the BioBlitz is the opportunity for students to work one-on-one with science professionals. Event organizers hope that the BioBlitz experience will inspire young volunteers to pursue scientific careers in the future.
With literally dozens of species around the world going extinct each day due to climate change, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, raising community awareness of the bats, birds, frogs, fish and other wildlife at the UI property is a timely task. Setting a baseline count for comparison purposes in future years allows people to track changes in local populations and intervene with protective actions as needed, Tugman said.
BioBlitz is free and open to the public, but those wishing to sign up to work on a counting team must register by calling 208-263-9471 prior to the event.